A round-up of recent successes - February 2020

30 January 2020

As part of our on-going update of the register, we have just completed the review of all 177 entries in the West Midlands region.  This covers Birmingham and Coventry and the surounding towns and country areas as well as Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.  We recorded rescues in 45 of those cases - that's 25% of the entries we held - but there were 9 losses (5%).  As the first part in a series of articles highlighting the stories behind those successes, we look at four buildings in Worcestershire.

Worcestershire

Woodside, Lark Hill, Worcester – This huge grade II listed house, set in a conservation area was entered on our register in 2012.  At that time the house was owned by a developer who had been in the process of converting the house to 8 flats but the work had stalled and the house had become vulnerable.  After appearing on our register, it was fully restored to become a 19 bed House of Multiple Occupation with 2 apartments.  By chance, the whole house is currently (January 2020) on the market and being advertised as an on-going rental business for a purchase price of £1.25m on the basis of a projected rental income of £124,000 a year.  Click here to read the full entry on the register.

Cricket Pavilion, Boughton Sports Pitch, Worcester – After years of gradual decay, this lovely unlisted pavilion has possibly been reprieved, albeit not in its original location. The Boughton site was used as the home of Worcestershire C.C.C. until 1896, meaning that the pavilion was an important part in the early history of one of England’s most distinguished county cricket clubs.  Its historic importance was widely recognised and defended by the council’s conservation team. While the battle for the redevelopment of the site continued, we put it on the register in 2007. Ultimately, as plans to create a cricket centre on the site moved forward, it was transported to the Avoncroft Open Air Museum.  It is not clear however whether the pavilion has been reassembled as it is not mentioned as an attraction on the museum’s website, only as possible project.  Click here to read the full entry on the register.

Piano Building, Kidderminster – Standing on the canalside in Kidderminster, this strikingly curved building was seriously at risk in 2002 when consent was granted to demolish it and build a cinema.  Despite there apparently not being much desire to save this distinctive building among the general local population, Kidderminster Civic Society were determined to protect it and campaigned to save it.  SAVE strongly opposed demolition, writing in its 2002 objection with reference to the other industrial buildings that had already been lost “These large buildings, strong in character, contain versatile spaces which experience shows with a little imagination can be easily and profitably converted to a number of new uses. They are clearly being demolished not because they are beyond re-use, but because they are mistakenly seen an obstacle to progress. This sort of attitude belongs in the 1970s, not in the 21st century”. 

In the face of consent being granted for demolition, SAVE supported the Civic Society’s urgent call for a spot listing   Fortunately, the building was granted listed status (grade II) and, in the process, its survival was secured.  Local dismay at this announcement caused SAVE’s then Secretary, Adam Wilkinson, to write to the local paper to say, presciently:  “I fear that those who are so upset about the listing of the Piano building do their town a disservice, and that in the long run they will probably be rather glad of its preservation.”

Although, it was not until 2012 that the building was fully brought back into use as a technical college, it has indeed come to be cherished as a landmark.  In 2013, the building received a conservation award from the Kidderminster Civic Society (judged by an outside panel of judges) in recognition of a conservation project which has resulted in a distinctive building symbolic of both Kidderminster’s heritage and its future. Click here to read the full entry on the register.

Weaver’s Cottages, Kidderminster – Following a long-running story, this collection of early 18th weavers cottages have been saved.  In 2008 when we added them to our register, they were in a very poor condition and surrounded by a new development which should have led to their restoration.  It was about 8 years before work started but they certainly found an ideal saviour in the form of the Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust (WBPT).  The cottages were sensitively restored by the WBPT and have since been sold to commercial buyers.  Work started in 2016 and was completed in 2017.   Click here for a link to the WBPT's page on these cottages.  Click here to read the full entry on the register.